I am reading Vernor Vinge’s Marooned in Realtime, the well-known book about people who missed The Singularity. Last night, a character explained how an intelligence explosion works. You find ways to improve intelligence; you use that enhanced intelligence to improve intelligence further; repeat as necessary. At some point, you figure out the fundamental principles of the universe and build your own using common household items.
Anarchy Online and Asheron’s Call players have their own recursive self-improvement. Cast your level 5 spells to buff your stats, which lets you wear better equipment, which lets you cast level 6 spells, which lets you wear better equipment… That process caps due to game design choices like diminishing returns and spell durations, as opposed to the intelligence explosion, which is self-accelerating.
Only this morning did I learn that Morrowind includes intelligence explosion as a mechanic. You can beat the game in less than fifteen minutes, starting with the step “Create and drink Fortify Intelligence in batches of 5.” It is like having a skill that grants you bonus experience every time you earn experience, where you improve that skill by earning experience.
And now I have the compulsion to re-read Godel, Escher, Bach.